Characteristics of Organizational Culture

This module is designed to teach you how to describe the characteristics of organizational culture.

It will take you approximately 15-20 minutes to complete and will include a learning component along with an assessment to test you in what you have learned.

Characteristics of Organizational Culture

What is Organizational Culture?

Hover over the people below to help you understand organizational culture!

Watch this video to gain a better understanding of organizational culture:

Can you think about a time when the organizational culture was clear at your school or workplace?

Every organization has their own culture filled with different beliefs, assumptions, goals, values and more. 

Seven Characteristics

There are seven primary characteristics of an organization’s culture:

  • Innovation & Risk-Taking
  • Attention to Detail
  • Outcome Orientation
  • People Orientation
  • Team Orientation
  • Aggressiveness
  • Stability

How to Apply the Characteristics

Each of these characteristics exists on a continuum from low to high

  • These seven characteristics can help you to understand the overall culture of your organization
  • This can be the beginning of a shared understanding you and your fellow employees can have about your organization
  • You can then have a shared understanding members have about an organization, how things are done in it, and how members are supposed to behave.


Innovation and Risk-Taking

The degree to which employees are encouraged to be innovative and take risks. 

An innovative culture is one where titles and statuses are not emphasized, and failures are also encouraged along with successes.

Attention to Detail

The degree to which employees are expected to exhibit precision, analysis, and attention to detail.

An example of a detail-oriented culture is a hotel that provides a bouquet of flowers for a guest's anniversary. It is one that tries to impress customers and ensures repeated visits by paying attention to details within the workplace.

Outcome Orientation

The degree to which management focuses on results or outcomes rather than on technique and process.

Achievements and results are important in this type of culture.

People Orientation

The degree to which management decisions take into consideration the effect of outcomes on people within the organization.

These cultures value traits such as fairness, supportiveness and respect for the individuals who work for them and strive include fair procedures and management styles.

Team Orientation

The degree to which work activities are organized around teams rather than individuals.

Collaboration and cooperation are heavily emphasized in this type of culture, and employees are encouraged to help one another. 

Aggressiveness

The degree to which people are aggressive and competitive rather than easygoing.

The focus of this type of culture is to outperform other organizations no matter what the cost.

Stability

The degree to which organizational activities emphasize maintaining the status quo in contrast to growth.

Stable cultures can be seen as predictable, rule-oriented and efficient. 

Scenarios

The next few slides will review a few scenarios to give a better representation of a couple of the characteristics within the workplace.

Dylan frequently yells at his employees and insists all of their sales goals are met each month and on a specific time. Employees will be reprimanded if they do not perform up to these expectations. Dylan's organization is displaying which characteristic?

Anton encourages his staff to work together and callaborate when a project needs to be completed. His organization represents which characteristic?

Kaleigh manages a group of employees who are creating a new app. She encourages her staff to frequently create new things, share their ideas and even encourages failures if it means creating something great. Which characteristic does this represent?

Assessment

What is Organizational Culture?

  • A shared meaning held by members that distinguishes the organization from other organizations.
  • Which employees have lunch together and when.
  • The overall goal that inspires employees to be productive.
  • A list of tasks which tell an employee how to behave within the workplace.
Select the correct response:

True of False: Each of the seven characteristics can appear as low, high or anywhere in between.

  • True
  • False

Can you match some of the characteristics with their definition?

  • Outcome Orientation
    Management focuses on results or outcomes rather than on technique and process.
  • People Orientation
    Management decisions take into consideration the effect of outcomes on people within the organization.
  • Team Orientation
    Work activities are organized around teams rather than individuals.
  • Stability
    Organizational activities emphasize maintaining the status quo in contrast to growth.

Fill in the blank:

 is the degree to which a manager encouarges their staff to be aggressive and competitive rather than easygoing.

Select the correct characteristic:

 is the degree to which employees are expected to exhibit precision, analysis, and attention to detail. 

Select the correct characteristic:

is the degree to which employees are encouraged to be innovative and take risks. 

Module Completed!

Congratulations!

You have officially completed this module! We hope you have gained a better understanding of organizational culture and its characteristics, and can even apply it to your school or workplace!

References

The content and images used in this module were taken from the following sources: